Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Basic Boiled Beans (Some Staple Cookery 101 from Chef Tess)

 Happy Tuesday.  All of our Thrive food products are 15% off in the store this month so it seemed like a great idea to cover some of the staples and how to cook them. This one's for anyone who has ever wondered how to cook beans. So...lets talk about magical food. Beans. I teach basic cooking skills as well as advanced culinary arts. That's what I do. I'm a firm believer in the fact that if you may never know when you will be called upon to cook a staple food, or a fancy dish. Knowing the basics of something as simple as beans is something you will never regret. You may know how to make painted breads, but honestly, that isn't a daily need unless you run a bakery. You will always have to feed yourself or your family. Sometimes things may be financially tight, or you may be looking for a lean nutritional main dish. Food wise, you can't go wrong when it comes to beans. Their nutritional data can't be beat, especially fiber and calories when it comes to filling up hungry bellies and staying full! Beans are amazing food...unless of course, you don't cook them correctly. Then you have these crunchy bean shaped things in sauce...that frankly aren't very appealing. It reminds me too much of eating bugs. Yes, I also ate bugs as a kid. I know that explains a lot.
 As for beans, what you really want, is this...
Basic Bare Bones Boiled Beans
You will need:
1 lb of dry beans ( like Pinto Beans , black,Black Beans  white, black-eyed peas,Kidney Beans  ,Small Red Beans )
1T  Baking Soda  (optional)

Flavor Options I use:
pepper, bay leaf, Chef Tess All purpose Seasoning  , garlic, 1/2 cup Dehydrated Onion, 1/4 cup Freeze Dried Mixed Peppers, and Real Salt  
Step 1:
Wash and soak* beans. Rinse with hot water and make sure there aren't any rocks or foreign matter in with your beans. Let's face it, they come from plants...there might be dirt. Clean it up. I soak my beans in a gallon of water with 1T of baking soda. I have found this step most useful in helping to break down the acids in the bean skins. They cook softer. After 8-24 hours of soaking, I drain the water, rinse again and put in a crock pot or the pot for my Global Sun Oven.  *Note, you don't have to soak beans, but it does help shorten the cooking time, as well as help with digestion "issues"...if you know what I mean. I think you do. You can "quick soak" beans by pouring boiling water over the beans and soaking one hour.
Step 2:
Place drained beans in 4 quart crock pot or stove top 6 quart pot. Cover beans with 6-8 cups very hot water and simmer. No salt is best at this point. No tomato products either. Salt added at this point will make it take longer for the beans to cook. Acid products like tomatoes will make it hard to cook period. To be sure, use just the water and the beans. If you use chicken stock to cook beans it adds flavor, just be sure it's low sodium. Okay...I say that and then I realize I use black pepper and bay leaf at this point as well. Okay...so it's okay to add Spanish seasoning like whole cracked black pepper, bay leaf, ground cumin, dry oregano, ground coriander (about 1/2 tsp each)...just not the salt until the end. This is where I add the 1/2 cup Dehydrated Onion, 1/4 cup Freeze Dried Mixed Peppers, Fair? You can also add a whole onion, with the "paper" skin removed. Just whole in with the beans. It sounds strange, but a Mexican gal I love showed me that trick and it's great for adding onion flavor without adding any chunks of onion...if you don't want chunks. Just remove the onion after cooking, and discard. I've also done this with a whole carrot and a whole celery stalk when I just want to add the flavor. You can also just add the dry onion, garlic, or dry vegetables, again being sure there isn't salt. A little won't hurt, but it again, will take longer to cook the beans. Yes...I know there are a lot of people who add pig to the beans. Salt pork, bacon, ham...all add salt and a nice smoky flavor. Do what you want, it will take a little longer (by 1-2 hours) if you add a lot of the salted meats. Add 3-4 drops of liquid smoke and you don't have to add meat at all. For black beans, I also add a dash of allspice, believe it or not, I really like the flavor in black beans.

Step 3:
Simmer 1 1/2 hours on stove top or 2 1/2 hours on high in the crock pot (3 hours in the solar oven). If you cook them on low temperature, it will take 4-5 hours. If you cook stove top, you may need to add additional water, be sure it is very hot, or the cooking time will increase. Yes you can  Pressure Cook  beans...they take 20 minutes that way, but that's another lesson.
Step 4:
Season. When cooking time is up, check to see if beans are soft before you add the Real Salt  salt and any additional Chef Tess All purpose Seasoning . . . If you want to add tomato powder or any  tomato products, now you may do so if  and only if the beans are tender.
  Continue to simmer a few minutes.
Now this next part is me. Totally me. I love garlic in my beans. I love a very pronounced flavor of garlic in my beans, so I add it last. Fresh pressed, two cloves in my pot at the end of cooking. If you want a hint of garlic, but not a bold statement, then you can add fresh pressed at the beginning of cooking.

This is what we end up with.

Homemade beans on a homemade tortilla...is dinner for pennies. It's not fancy, but it may not be fancy you need. It may be just making it to the next paycheck without feeling deprived of good food. This my friends, is my gift to you. Enjoy a few more dollars back in your pocket. Fire up the crock pot or Global Sun Oven .
Oh, and one last note. Because beans are so high in protein, at the right temperature they are the perfect breeding ground for food born illness. Please be sure to cool them quickly. I put my beans in smaller bowls and leave the top vented when I cover them with foil so they will get cold quickly in the fridge. If you freeze, be sure to cool them in the fridge first and then transfer to the freezer, as to not overwork your freezer, and keep the beans at a safe temperature. One pound of dry beans will usually yield about 7 cups of cooked beans! That's enough for a family easily! Serve that with Homemade Rice-Y-Roni Mix  or regular rice...and you've done it. Dinner on the cheap.

There you go.

Oh. One last thing. How do you store beans?

Storage Conditions from THRIVE:
Temperature: Storing THRIVE at a high temperature can significantly increase the speed that calories and vitamins will degrade over time. In the correct storage container, low-moisture foods such as THRIVE can be stored at room temperature or cooler (75 degrees Fahrenheit or lower) and remain nutritious and edible for years. Our stated shelf life assumes that the product will be stored in optimal conditions.
Humidity: The affects of humidity on a closed can are caused by heat and very similar to the affects of high temperature (see above). High humidity can corrode the cans and in some cases even cause the cans to leak. Areas with high humidity can reduce the opened shelf life of the product. As humidity varies with location please use your own discretion to prevent possible sickness from eating spoiled food.
Damaged Container: Minor dents in the center of the can are usually just a cosmetic issue. However, a can that has been dented near or on a seam can have a compromised air-tight seal and allow oxygen to enter the can. If this is the case we recommend using the dented can within the specified opened shelf life, rather than closed.
The best way to maintain the highest quality of your THRIVE products is to take care of them. If you intend on storing your food for the sealed shelf life, store the cans in a place that is not open to elements such as water, light, and air. Take care of it. Don't expose it unnecessarily to the elements. Also, be sure to keep the temperature and humidity low and even. Under these proper storing situations your THRIVE will maintain its delicious taste, natural coloring, and proper nutrients.
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